CAMP CARROLL, South Korea -- Monthly quality control checks are a staple of regular maintenance for the 95th Medical Detachment (Blood Support) as it provides critical blood product support to the Korean peninsula.
Regular quality assurance measures ensure the 95th MDBS, a tenant unit under the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea, maintains a high level of readiness of the largest forward-deployed frozen blood supply in the Department of Defense.
USAMMC-K is a direct reporting unit to Army Medical Logistics Command, the Army’s premier medical logistics organization and life cycle manager for medical materiel.
The 95th MDBS uses 32 automated cell processors between its blood depots at Camp Carroll and Camp Humphreys. Regular equipment maintenance and the skillset refreshers for operators are crucial to the safety and efficiency of the deglycerolization process to prepare frozen packed red blood cells (RBCs) for use.
“Performing monthly quality control is a critical task in the process of providing blood product support to the Korean Theater of Operation (KTO),” said Maj. Clifford Wong, commander of the 95th MDBS.
In order to freeze blood, glycerol must be added as a preservative agent within six days of collection. Once frozen, the blood product is good for 10 years.
To return it to a transfusable product that can be used for a patient, the process must be reversed to remove the glycerol through the use of specialized instruments that “wash” the RBCs and ready them for use within 14 days.
Wong said the 95th MDBS regularly receives frozen RBCs from the Armed Services Whole Blood Processing Laboratory as pre-positioned Class VIIIB stock for the KTO. It takes roughly 3 ½ to 4 hours to complete the deglycerolization process through the use of a blood thawer, blood cell processor, and a sealer and segmenter.
“Every month, the process to prepare blood products for transfusion is performed on these instruments to ensure they are able to perform their required function,” Wong said. “Passing results are documented and are valid for one month which allows the instruments to prepare blood products at any time without further validation testing.”
If an instrument fails, the results are documented and the instrument is taken out of service. Action is then taken to troubleshoot the issue.
The monthly quality checks allow the unit to follow through on its mission and top priority, ensuring all Soldiers and beneficiaries are able to receive life-saving blood products at a moment’s notice.
“It provides a ready posture for the 95th MDBS to immediately execute the process of preparing blood products for the requesting unit to transfuse into a patient,” Wong said.